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Ryley Sanders drafted to Western Bulldogs with pick six

Jackson Clark -

Talented Indigenous teenager Ryley Sanders has been selected by the Western Bulldogs with pick six on the opening night of the AFL Draft.

Sanders is considered one of the best midfield prospects among this crop of draftees and is coming off an excellent 2023 season across multiple levels of football.

After being drafted, Sanders told Fox Footy that he had an idea there was some interest from the Western Bulldogs.

"I had a good inkling from my manager Nick Gieschen that if I was there (at pick six) I could potentially end up at the Doggies," he said.

"I'm just so stoked to be there and they have so many good players that I'll be able to learn off, which is great."

Sanders averaged over 30 disposals per game across his nine outings for Sandringham Dragons in the Coates Talent League this season, his second consecutive premiership-winning season at the Dragons.

A picture of consistency, he did not dip below 25 disposals in a game once throughout the 2023 campaign.

He also averaged a massive 38.8 disposals per game across his APS season with Melbourne Grammar.

Sanders was brilliant at representative level for the Allies, spearheading the team to an undefeated carnival and claiming the Larke Medal as the best performed player in the process.

Ryley Sanders with the Larke Medal after a string of brilliant performances in the National Championships. (Image: AFL)

The 18-year-old – who was named captain in the U18 All-Australian team – described his experience with the Allies as 'amazing'.

"I had a great six weeks with the Allies boys – to win the Championships and to win the (Larke) Medal was great."

Sanders is regarded as a high-production midfielder who has the ability to accumulate plenty of the football.

He possesses clean hands, classy decision making and a high footy IG.

AFL Draft guru Kevin Sheehan said on Fox Footy's coverage that the Bulldogs had drafted a tremendously talented player.

"He's just a polished player who prepares so well and produces from week to week," Sheehan said.

"An outstanding player all year in the Coates Talent League, he then played for the Allies and dominated."

A member of the AFL Academy for the past two seasons, he performed well in games against Port Adelaide and Carlton reserves this year as a key feature of the Academy team's on-ball rotation.

Sanders was made a member of North Melbourne's Next Generation Academy earlier in the year and at one point looked destined to head to Arden Street.

AFL rules state that teams can only match bids on NGA players after selection 40, but the Kangaroos had requested an assistance package that could have involved getting priority access to Sanders and having the ability to match a bid.

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